Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: November 23, 2017
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is an action adventure platform game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Marvel’s superheroes have been progressively introduced over the decades as Marvel Comics began in 1939 under the name Timely Comics before changing the title to Atlas Comics in the early 1950s and finally becoming Marvel Comics in 1961, although there was a Marvel Mystery Comics range which dated back as far as October 1939. The iconic Stan Lee did not make his debut with Marvel until May 1941 when he was a text filler for Captain America Foils the Traitors Revenge inside the third issue of Captain America Comics which led to him writing a back-up feature called Headline Hunter, Foreign Correspondent only two issues later before co-creating his first superhero in August 1941 as the Destroyer made his debut in the sixth issue of Mystic Comics which seen Stan Lee continue to impress and progress his career at Marvel. Marvel no longer just operates as a comic book range, but also as a provider of many successful film franchises including Avengers, Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man, Thor and more besides as well as amazing television series such as Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, Daredevil and The Punisher. Videogames based upon Marvel comic book characters originated in 1982 with Spider-Man on Atari 2600 which has resulted in dozens releasing ever since with the most regular occurring characters including the Hulk, the Punisher, Spider-Man, X-Men and crossovers featuring characters from multiple areas within the Marvel universe. Can LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 set a new level of quality for Marvel focused gaming?
The story follows on immediately from where its prequel ended in an all-new original branching storyline as the time travelling super villain Kang the Conqueror has assembled the world of Chronopolis by tearing parts of other worlds and combining them into his own; therefore Kang must be stopped from continuing his evil plans. The story is great in its concept and strongly written as evidenced by the fact that it is co-written by established award-winning comic book author Kurt Busiek; responsible for dozens of Marvel comic book issues including the full run of 12 issues within the Avengers Forever series in addition to individual issues and groups of issues for characters such as Iron Man, Spider-Man and Thor as well as annuals.
The story spans 20 missions of adventure and puzzles with freedom to explore; even to the extent of on occasion offering players an alternative mission; for instance Team Captain America must follow the knights through the portal, while Team Spider-Man pursues Klaw through the portal.
Free play mode allows the player to revisit each completed level in any order in an attempt to utilise the skills of each unlocked character by switching to characters that cannot be used during story mode, therefore attempting to find which character’s abilities hold the key to progressing beyond a difficult puzzle and finding out what is hidden beyond an alternative route such as a minikit comic book cover or Stan Lee in Peril.
There are lots of additional activities beyond completing the levels comprising of checkpoint based races available in free play mode with participation available via on-foot and aerial traversal, vehicles or flying characters in which progressing through checkpoints replenishes the amount of time remaining on the timer, achieving True Believer status, numerous challenges, 50 Stan Lee in Peril missions in which Stan Lee must be saved across a variety of locations, unlocking 236 characters, collecting 200 minikits to unlock comic book covers with a cover unlocked after finding 10 minikits within a level and 255 gold bricks. Pink bricks are the new red bricks with 17 in total in which 7 can be purchased with LEGO studs such as x2, x4, x6, x8 and x10 LEGO stud multipliers, while the other 10 are awarded for successfully completing Gwenpool side quests to unlock the chance to utilise LEGO studs to purchase helium mode, big head mode, demolition mode and party mode and much more besides.
The character design is excellent as it reflects that of not only what you would anticipate from a LEGO game, but also Marvel cinematic films and television series as there are 236 unlockable playable characters which can be unlocked as you play and purchased using LEGO studs that are collected throughout the game. Characters can use their unique abilities to unlock different areas of levels such as Star-Lord’s jetpack to fly to higher ground and gravity grenade which can remove heavy barricades, while Drax the Destroyer can destroy weaker walls. Every character has their own unique personality in the sense of how they approach situations and how comedic or serious they are, alongside a range of melee weapons, attacks, powers and much more besides.
Character creator is unlocked after completing Iron Man’s mission to find the correct materials to repair a door opening mechanism at the Avengers Mansion followed by taking the stairwell downstairs then entering the room on the far left before stepping on one of the pads and pressing O to begin creating a new hero or villain. Character creator effectively allows players to mix and match components from gradually unlocked super heroes and super villains; comprising of an appearance category including hair, head, neck, helmets, attachments, hands, body, arms, capes, hips and legs; abilities such as deflecting, fix-its, vine cutting, super strength and time manipulation; weapons such as swords, shields, staves, claws, guns, bows, hammers and axes; passive traits such as health, voice, movement speed and target reticule; miscellaneous such as character name and background image; as well as the option to randomise a character. Rather amazingly, despite the quantity of potential combinations; every decision is reflected in your created character’s unique character card.
Instead of the environment design directly following the Marvel cinematic universe; LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 deviates away from that with extreme diversity as story mission focused environments include Ancient Egypt, a futuristic New York City from the year 2099, the Old West, Sakaar, Xandar and much more besides in addition to hub worlds containing such locations as the Avengers Mansion.
LEGO and Marvel are such a natural blend as the trademark LEGO humour does not need to be forced upon the subject matter as the Marvel cinematic universe of films and television handle humour just as well as the more serious scenes. Therefore, it should be no surprise that humour has a place in the script almost immediately as Gamora states to the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy, “We have to get out of this pigsty” to which Drax the Destroyer responds, “But I do not see any pigs”. When Star-Lord plays Come And Get Your Love on his Walkman; every enemy in the near vicinity stops attacking him instead preferring to dance to the music. Elsewhere, the king of comic books and comic book movie cameos Stan Lee contemplates how he keeps on getting himself into such crazy situations.
A season pass is available for purchase digitally for £11.99 or $14.99 including 6 new playable levels and 4 character packs inspired by films and comics from the Marvel universe. The downloadable content comprises of character packs for classic Guardians of the Galaxy, Agents of Atlas, Out of Time, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 movie, Champions, Black Panther movie, Cloak and Dagger, Runaways, Avengers: Infinity War movie and Ant-Man and the Wasp movie in addition to level packs for Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 movie, Black Panther movie, Cloak and Dagger, Runaways, Avengers: Infinity War movie and Ant-Man and the Wasp movie.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 will not be ported to Vita; however LEGO Marvel fans looking for a Vita native portable experience set in the world of LEGO Marvel can find exactly what they are looking for in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril and LEGO Marvel’s Avengers which are both available at retail or via download. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2’s remote play performance is excellent as it produces the quality of graphics, audio and general performance from the PS4 version. As with previous LEGO games such as LEGO Worlds, LEGO City Undercover and LEGO Ninjago: The Movie Videogame; split-screen multiplayer is displayed in split-screen during remote play, although it would have been much better to have the player using remote play to have their own full Vita screen with the other player having a full television screen. Controls have not been appropriately optimised as cycling through characters has moved to the top left and right of the rear touch pad, despite nothing being mapped to L and R, while hints has been re-mapped to the bottom left of the rear touch pad. However, it does not detract from a comfortable and enjoyable remote play experience.
The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the control scheme consisting of pressing X to jump or double tapping X quickly twice to roll; pressing O to interact with an object or to perform a special ability, build, use or activate; pressing triangle to switch from controlling one character to a nearby character or holding triangle to transform into the alter-ego of a character such as Bruce Banner transforming into the Hulk; pressing square to perform an attack, holding square to aim; pressing L1 or R1 to cycle through characters; changing the direction of the left analogue stick or alternatively pressing up, down, left or right on the d-pad to move your selected character; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to move the camera; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. Tapping the touch pad displays a map of the current hub area or level, while the DualShock 4 controller vibrates when switching between characters and performing certain attacks such as Spider-Man shooting his webs. There is no light bar implementation which could have produced a unique shade of colour representing each character.
Graphically, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 possesses excellent models and animations of everything within the large-scale environments as well as character models having a charming appeal to them; not only as they are all constructed entirely from LEGO but also as they are incredibly faithful recreations of characters and the grand scale of environments that would be anticipated from the Marvel cinematic universe, alongside some wonderful graphical effects that reflect the abilities of super heroes and super villains such as Kang’s time manipulation effects, Spider-Man’s webs and much more besides.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, options menu, additional content, extras menu and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. Menu backgrounds set the scene for the scale of the game as Star-Lord enters into a huge battle involving hundreds of opposing ships, while the text fonts and its background patterns are as stylised as those found in comic books.
There are no archive voice-overs from the films and television series within the Marvel cinematic universe, although this is understandable due to LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 has its own original story; whereas LEGO Marvel’s Avengers was able to integrate archive voice-overs as it followed the path of multiple Marvel cinematic stories. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 has a superb cast of voice-over artists including Peter Serafinowicz voicing super villain Kang the Conqueror having previously narrated LEGO Worlds and voicing Forrest Blackwell, Cornelius Burns and Jethro Hayes in LEGO City Undercover having starred as Denarian Saal in Guardians of the Galaxy and Sommelier in John Wick: Chapter 2. Dar Dash voices Hawkeye and Wonder Man having previously performed the role of Guitarist Jack in Guitar Hero Live and voiced Zaki Malik in Forza Horizon, while Stefan Ashton Frank voices Groot and Green Goblin having previously voiced Tanner in Driver 2 and Lucky Rudde in Call of Duty 3, alongside Ramon Tikaram voicing Doctor Strange having previously voiced Ravindra ‘Rav’ Chaudhry in Need for Speed: Payback, Dorian in Dragon Age: Inquisition and Gabe Weller in Dead Space: Extraction. Greg Miller voices Howard the Duck having previously voiced Aldrich Killian in LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, alongside Kinda Funny Games co-presenter Tim Gettys voicing Throg. The cast also includes many equally as talented voice-over artists such as Stan Lee in his returning Stan Lee in Peril segments and Tom-Clarke Hill voicing multiple characters who you will know from voicing Karl Fairburne in the Sniper Elite series, Sergeant Cortez in TimeSplitters 2 and Future Perfect, Sergeant Rico Valasquez in Killzone and Killzone: Liberation, Milton in Blues and Bullets, Kendert in Horizon: Zero Dawn.
Sound effects include a variety of characters walking, running, jumping, flying, climbing, throwing, punching, firing weapons, using their unique abilities, driving vehicles, building and collecting LEGO studs. Ian Livingstone returns having previously composed the soundtrack for LEGO Marvel’s Avengers with another instrumental soundtrack worthy of Marvel films and players who appreciate the music from recent LEGO games will certainly agree, while having also composed for LEGO The Hobbit and LEGO Dimensions in addition to Shadow of the Beast and Codemasters’ F1 and Grid series. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation which is surprising as it could have produced particular sound effects such as unlocking a new character or comic book cover.
The trophy list includes 46 trophies with 37 bronze trophies, 4 silver trophies, 4 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Just under half of the trophies can be earned naturally during the first playthrough as there are 21 story based trophies including a total of 17 bronze trophies, 1 silver trophy and 3 gold trophies for completing each story level. Easier trophies include the Grandmaster Greetings gold trophy for playing capture the infinity stone in Grandmaster Mode; the Operation: Rebirth bronze trophy for creating a custom super hero; and the Dancing in the Moon Knight bronze trophy for activating Star-Lord’s dance ability to make 5 characters dance. There are trophies which require for particular characters to be used within a gameplay session such as the We Are Groot silver trophy for having Groot and Baby Groot in a party; the Council of Kangs bronze trophy for having multiple Kangs in a party; and the Dog Meet Dog bronze trophy for Cosmo and Lockjaw in a party. The rest of the trophy list centres around achieving and unlocking pretty much everything the game has to offer which includes harder trophies such as A Hero’s Job Is Never Easy bronze trophy for rescuing every Stan Lee in Peril character; the Don’t Stop, Believer bronze trophy for obtaining true believer status on every level by collecting a huge quantity of LEGO studs; the Comic Book Collector silver trophy for unlocking and viewing all minikit comics; the Another Gold Brick in the Wall bronze trophy for collecting all gold bricks; the Inhabitants of Chronopolis bronze trophy for purchasing all characters; and the Journey Through Time and Space bronze trophy for completing every quest in Chronopolis. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 25 to 35 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although characters will immediately respawn after dying in combat and there are some puzzles that require changing to another character in order to gain access to certain areas or generally progress. These gameplay elements result in the difficulty curve for the story missions, side quests and challenges being only as hard as the player would find the puzzles, exploration and combat. There are some tricky puzzles in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2; therefore it is not necessarily going to be easy to progress through every level, while achieving 100% completion is hard given the scale of the environments that need to be explored to find comic book minikits, gold bricks, rescuing Stan Lee in Peril characters and much more besides. The difficulty curve is rather appropriate given the appeal of LEGO to a wide audience and age range from young children to adults.
Split-screen multiplayer allows a second player to join in at any given moment via drop-in/drop-out multiplayer and play co-operatively, while each of the levels see both players working together within the same environment to figure out puzzles and overcome obstacles. The co-operative multiplayer is presented in vertical split-screen which works exceptionally well; allowing players to usually explore two completely separate areas of the same level or hub area without restriction to their location, movements or actions, unless there is a requirement to be within a certain area before progressing on with the story. Two players can participate in races as a form of competitive checkpoint timer focused racing within free play mode.
LEGO Marvel’s Avengers introduced the notion of a competitive multiplayer component albeit as an unlockable, while following on from LEGO Ninjago: The Movie Videogame’s introduction of Battle Arenas; LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 applies a reworking of the Battle Arenas gameplay to the Marvel universe. Unlike LEGO Ninjago: The Movie Videogame; Battle Arenas is now presented on a single screen from above the action; supporting anywhere from 1 to 4 players as players can be configured to your preferences resulting in a single player being able to play against 3 A.I. controlled opponents or 2 players vs. 2 players, 3 players vs. 1 player or 4 players battling individually, while if there are 2 players, then both players could have an A.I. controlled character on their respective teams. There are two game modes including Capture the Infinity Stones which sees players battling it out for control over a variety of infinity stones with bonus points on offer for destroying your opponents through the power assigned to the infinity stones in which the player or team with the highest points tally after every infinity stone has returned to the gauntlet being declared the winner. The second game mode is Colour Clash were players are tasked with collecting the most colour by running around the arena to fill up your vat in which the player or team with the largest quantity of colour at the end of three minutes wins the match. Colour Clash has an added twist of power-ups such as allowing the player who collects the power-up to sprint faster in order to apply a greater amount of colour to the arena’s surface within a shorter space of time. Both modes take place in one of four small intimate arenas including The Dark Dimension, Sakaar, Wakanda and Attilan. Capture the Infinity Stones and Colour Clash are both overseen by The Grandmaster who produces a play-by-play commentary on the action during each match.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2’s replayability includes replaying levels to collect and purchase pink bricks, gold bricks, comic book minikits, viewing the character cards of every unlocked character and more besides which you may have been unable to do so during the first playthrough without having access to a certain character’s unique ability. Revisiting levels in free play mode as different characters you have unlocked with unique abilities in an attempt to find which character can solve a puzzle and unlock whatever may lay beyond it, while there are huge quantities of challenges to participate in. There is a natural satisfaction of creating your own characters and collecting LEGO studs as well as deconstructing particular objects and constructing an item that is of use to reach the next area of the story mission. Split-screen co-operative multiplayer is always fun to play with a friend, especially as both players are able to independently explore the vast environments, while the introduction of split-screen competitive multiplayer for 2 to 4 players in Battle Arenas is amazing fun. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 represents exceptional value as it collectively contains more than enough replay value throughout every feature to keep players returning for many story mode playthroughs or continuous exploration as unlocked characters for even longer than its prequel and LEGO Marvel’s Avengers.
• Title: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2
• Developer: TT Games
• Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
• System: PS4
• Format: Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1-2 (Local Co-operative Multiplayer)/1-4 (Local Competitive Multiplayer)
• Hard Drive Space Required: 21.14GB (Version 1.01)